When a mailing arrives with money visible through the outer envelope, it's almost impossible not to open it. And, if it's a $50 bill that's peeking through, well, it would be the exception, for sure, to toss that envelope unopened into the trash. This was the thinking behind a recent direct mail effort for Missouri-based marketing services agency Inquiry Intelligence Systems (809ININSY1203).
The effort's 6" x 9" outer envelope featured a large glassine window revealing the face of the company's brochure, as well as part of what looks like an actual $50 bill. Even for those who see direct mail day in, day out, who know that there's no way the bill is real, it's hard to resist opening the envelopejust in case.
The $50 bill is, in actuality, a 21/2" x 3" lift note that reads: "What does it cost to generate a Sales inquiry $50, $100, $500, More? For a $1.50/inquiry you can have Pro-active sales inquiry management." While the message could have been better phrased and/or punctuated, it was a good move to put the company's name and 800-number on the faux bill in case it gets separated from the rest of the package. (It's not unfathomable that some recipients would even use the bill as a gag for co-workers.)
The concept of using money or faux money isn't new to direct mail, but it largely has been used in consumer mailings, not in B-to-B/lead-generation efforts, like this one. While there's some risk that a prospect who opens the envelope may be met with disappointment at discovering the bill is fake, if the primary goal is to get the envelope opened in today's competitive B-to-B arena, it is likely to be successful.
"I try to put the prospect's hat on and think about what would tempt me," says Mike Moss, IQ Systems' director of marketing. "I sit over the trash can like everybody else when I look through my mail." So, Moss wanted a tactic that would keep the mailing out of the trash and inspire the prospect to at least open it.
This mailing was the first direct mail effort in which IQ Systems included the $50/lift note, but the company already had found it to be a successful attention-getter in other marketing venues. "We have used it at trade shows to pass out our literature; we'll leave an envelope like that for the marketing director," says Moss.
While response to the direct mail effort hasn't been as good as he had hoped, he says, the economy has for some time rendered prospects more hesitant to invest in products and services, and "nothing is generating response like it used to." But this particular mailing, he adds, "did better than a lot have done recently."
The faux $50 bill was not the only element new to the package, however, and the other element could have had an impact on response as well. "The window envelope is unique," says Moss. "We do sales literature for a number of clients, and they spend so much [money] designing the literature, then they put it in a closed envelope and don't know if it will even get opened. We started using the window envelope for them, so you can see the literature right away, and then decided to use it for ourselves."
As for future mailings, says Moss, "We're just laying out a new marketing plan, and will mail to about 3,000 prospects every six weeks. We'll use the $50 again," he notes, "probably about six months out and with different contents." The company may also do a survey, says Moss, "and I may put a real dollar in that one. I've done that in the past with market research, and it usually works well."